View Full Version : bears at Cosby..

10-04-2006, 10:22
did Newfound down to Walnut Bottoms.. Cosby had some activity tues nite. It was shaking the wires of the food hangups. Got to Walnut Bottoms, set up, ate lunch, was fixin to take a much needed swim, when my buddy saw the signs that the campground was closed due to bear problems. Ranger later told us a she bear has been terrorizing the campers. Umm.. am I profiling?:rolleyes:

10-04-2006, 18:52
have been hot spots for bear problems for decades - and also #29 on the north side of the ridge. I'd planned a pack for that area in a couple of weeks, but I'm having to rethink...

Lone Wolf
10-04-2006, 20:03
She was sausage blazing.

10-04-2006, 21:42
but I did hear a first hand account, from the scoutmaster, of an incident on Mt. Sterling, interestingly in the same general neighborhood, in the late '70s. This scout troop had hauled up a cast iron frying pan (I know it's the highest trail relief in the Smokies, but if you've seen enough scout troops, you understand), and they were frying up their morning bacon when they were charged by a sizeable sow, who scattered scouts in all directions. She then sat there and moaned piteously as she ate the bacon out of the red-hot pan.

Before the present system, a couple of other systems were tried at Walnut Bottoms. The first was a "swing-pole." Basically, they planted a couple of chopped-off utility poles, about 4' high, and through them ran a rod which also ran through a 4" diameter steel pole, suspended in the middle bedtween the two wooden poles. There was a big glob of concrete on the bottom on the pole as a counter-weight for the food on the upper end. It was a good idea, but the top part of the pole wasn't long enough, when it was swung up and locked with a pin. The bears could stand on the top of the utility poles and snag packs, if people tried to tie on a full pack, rather than a food bag. Having watched them at work one weekend, I was leading a group of newbies in the next weekend. I took a bunch of #8 common nails, clipped off the heads, and sharpened both ends. I took in a hammer and a file, pounded the nails into the tops of the wooden poles and resharpened them with the file. The next morning, all the nails were squashed flat, with no sign of blood. Maybe #16 nails would have worked, but I kinda doubt it. This by no means exhausts my Walnut Bottoms bear stories. BTW, did you know that, as you head up the trail towards Low Gap, at the first switch back to the right, on the right is an old settler's cemetery? A buddy and I were looking for it when I realized I was standing on a roll and he was standing in a trough. Oops! All the rolls were graves. The sandstone headstones had weathered to the point that the names couldn't be read and they had all fallen over, so we didn't know we were standing in a graveyard. I presume they were getting their water source from the creek or springs on the other side...

ed bell
10-04-2006, 21:57
Did a loop trip from Cosby Campground around 2000. First night was at Cosby Knob Shelter. Arrived after dark because of the late Friday start. Next night was only a couple miles to Walnut Bottoms. We had no bear activity, but the place had a "feel" to it like nowhere else I have ever stayed. I had heard stories about bears, but I am like bear repellant. They just wont show up. Considering the reputation Wallnut Bottoms has, that might have been a good thing. Last night was a good pull to Otter Creek Campground near Inadu Knob off of the Maderon Bald Trail. Great Trip. Bitter cold and snow for the last night.:sun

10-04-2006, 23:33
Ed, I must be a bear repellant like you. I have never seen or heard a bear at the Walnut Bottoms campsite. There have even been signs telling folks that bears are extremely active here but no sighting yet.

10-05-2006, 10:04
Have taken scout groups to Walnut Bottoms on several occasions but have never had any thing but mouse issues there. Did have a large bear hangout at #29 for about 30 min a year ago April. We finally had to hit it in the head with a tennis ball sized rock for it to leave.

10-05-2006, 10:27
Campsite #29 is one of the worst IMO. The bears can have it :D

10-05-2006, 11:05
Cosby shelter itself has quite a bear history. I've told my Cosby story here before, but in the mid-70s in my first trip to Cosby, we arrived to a full shelter at dusk, so we had to camp out front by ourselves...the trees were severely clawed and signs were posted everywhere warning about bears. The shelter dwellers had the benefit of a full cage across the front of the shelter.

The worst part was trying to sleep while listening to all the shelter people speculate about how "those fools out front are gonna get eaten by bears":D Didn't see a mouse, much less a bear...hee hee

10-08-2006, 13:32
The reason for the bears at Walnut Bottoms is the huge amount of people-traffic there. It's a typical horse camp with signs of years of the closest thing to "car-camping" you can do without actually driving in. There is almost always food, poorly-dug "cat holes", trash, etc. there. It's a beautiful area, but you can tell by how impacted the soil is that too many people use the place. The bears love these spots (as do tourists), but usually have enough common (bear) sense not to waste the energy to climb all the way up the ridge to the AT. One exception is Cosby Knob. If a bunch of frat boys can haul a cooler full of beer and food all the way up there (it's not really that far), then one can't blame the bears for trying to take advantage of the situation. Even in the dead of winter that shelter is quite often overrun with unregistered "hikers", tourists, and partiers. By the way, I was once a scout, myself, but have seen the mess many of the troops create. There are good scoutmasters and bad scoutmasters, and the way their boys treat the woods will tell you which is which. I shared an area near a shelter north of Irwin Tenn with a bunch of scouts once. The scoutmasters were obviously enjoying whatever libations they had stashed inside their tents, emerging every so often to sit in front of their tents with big goofy smiles on their faces. Meanwhile their scouts ran rampant through the area, washing their dishes and leaving the typical Ramen noodles in the spring, peeing on the side of the shelter, hacking down vegetation, staying up all night making noise and flashing their lights all over the place, you know the routine.....A bear's perfect dream.

10-08-2006, 15:20
because Big Creek is, hands-down, one of the prettiest creeks in the entire park...

10-11-2006, 22:09
Seems like this has been one of the worst years for people/bear encounters; We ran into two while hiking around Cades Cove the first of October

10-12-2006, 12:34
the two guys i was hiking with this past easter weekend saw a bear in GSNP ... all i saw were wild boar but i did see plenty of them.

10-12-2006, 16:00
I would much rather run into a bear. Boar can be very unpredictable and like to charge when startled or if they feel threatened.

10-12-2006, 16:11
Been around the pigs now for many years, but I just never thought that much about them. I don't think one will charge (they've always run away from me) unless one manages to maneuver oneself between momma and baby. One bizarre incident with them happened around 25 years ago on a winter pack up to Spence Field. In the middle of the night, there arose an ungodly racket out in front of the shelter - squealing, snorting, etc. Fourteen flashlights clicked on. There were a bunch of chocolate brown BIG pigs playing in the snow out in front of the shelter. They would charge at each other and bop each other in the side. They weren't mad at each other. The pig knocked over would just roll over and over, and then hop up and come back for more. I'd never seen anything like it and haven't since. I've lain out on Parson Bald looking at the stars with them rooting less than 20' away. Unless you inadvertently corner one, or, as above, interfere with the maternal relationship, they can be safely ignored.

10-12-2006, 16:50
"Unless you inadvertently corner one, or, as above, interfere with the maternal relationship, they can be safely ignored."

I would say that this holds true for most wildlife. I saw one charge our dog as a young man, and I guess that it gave me a healthy dose of respect for the crazy little critters!

10-12-2006, 17:02
Maybe they just want some deelicious Jello Pudding! :D

10-12-2006, 17:13
that were a sow, with shoats nearby, that could easily happen. The pig would see the dog as a predator. Don't ge me wrong - I don't like them and they are a disaster for the environment. They are exotics and they feed by the "bulldozer" method. I just don't consider them a danger to hikers, except under rare circumstances...

10-13-2006, 07:48
A GSMNP ranger that was staying in our shelter a few years ago said that he has chased bears off with a stick, but pigs are one reason he was glad he was carrying a firearm. I don't know much about pigs, but this gave me a healthy respect for them.

10-13-2006, 11:33
be an expert, but not necessarily. He may well not have hiked nearly as many miles in the Park as some of us posting in this thread. With the firearm, in fact, he may have been a law enforcement ranger, and those come out of a background which does not emphasize knowledge of the backcountry or wildlife. One big complaint of some of the older rangers I've had as friends is that the rangers are no longer required to be "well-rounded" and knowledgeable about the back country. I know I've given up calling there and expecting much in the way of informed help. I guess you guys with agrizoophobia will just have to do my worrying for me...:)

10-13-2006, 11:38
Interesting point. He did seem like more of the law enforcement type. Agrizoophobia? I think a fear or phobia is different than simple respect for the animals. Whether bear or pig I will try to go around them, but they definetly won't keep me out of the woods.

10-13-2006, 14:40
Me either. I have spent many day in the woods and swamps of Central Florida (as well as Middle and East Tennessee). Snakes and Gators abound. If you keep your distance and watch what you are doing, everything will be ok. One camping Trip to South Florida (Fish Eating Creek) was during Gator mateing season. We camped right on the creek and you could hear the Bull Gators with thier deep, deep, bellows all night. What an experience! Wouldn't pass it up for the world!

10-13-2006, 16:29
I think we are all on the same page and are quibbling about semantics. I try to keep a respectful distance - except, maybe, with bears after my food, when I've been known to get agressive. IF they get it, give up. They understand possession being nine points of the law very well...:)